In this article you will find:
- Best Non Prescription Diabetic Dog Food
- Reviewed Foods for Diabetic Dogs
- 1. Orijen Six Fish Formula
- 2. Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe
- 3. Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe
- 4. ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe
- 5. Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
- 6. Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet
- 7. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate
- Background for Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
- Risk Factors for Diabetes in Dogs
- Tips for Feeding your Dog a Diabetic Dog Food
- The Diabetic Dog’s Food
- Managing your Diabetic Dog’s Diet
- Do diabetic dogs need special food?
- Can diabetic dogs eat regular dog food?
- How many times a day do you feed a diabetic dog?
- Can a diabetic dog eat scrambled eggs?
Dealing with a diabetic dog? Read on to learn more about diabetes in dogs & our best non prescription diabetic dog food recommendations below.
Receiving a diagnosis that your dog is diabetic can feel overwhelming for many dog lovers. While diabetes is not curable, it is treatable.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, diabetic dogs can have lifespans similar to those of non-diabetic dogs.
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DogFood.Guide is maintained by Mary Nielsen & her staff. Mary is an animal lover of both dogs and cats. She and her staff are passionate about animals and work hard to provide you with a wealth of information for you and your dog.
The time of greatest risk is during the first six months of treatment, when insulin therapy is introduced and the dog’s glucose levels are being regulated.
Diabetic dogs do have a higher risk of death from concurrent diseases such as kidney disease, liver and/or pancreatic disorders, or infections.
However, once a diabetic dog’s condition becomes stabilized, there is no reason why the dog cannot live a long, healthy and happy life while eating a diabetic dog food.
OUR TOP 3 PICKS OF DOG FOODS FOR DIABETIC DOGS
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(For a full discussion of diabetes in dogs, complications, and related health disorders, we recommend reading “Managing Diabetes in Dogs,” by CJ Puotinen and Mary Straus [updated February 19, 2016]. We also recommend this glossary with terms associated with diabetes mellitus.)
Best Non Prescription Diabetic Dog Food
Orijen Six Fish Adult Dog Food
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Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe
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Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe
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Acana Heritage Free Run Poultry Dog Food
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Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice
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Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet
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Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate Medium & Maxi
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Reviewed Foods for Diabetic Dogs
There is no one size fits all diet for diabetic dogs. Each pup is different, and has different nutritional requirements. Consult your vet on the proper balance of nutrients that your dog needs.
Many diabetic dogs are given low fat, high fiber diets. Fiber helps slow down the digestion and absorption of dietary carbs, which benefits dogs’ sugar regulation.
While some overweight diabetic dogs can benefit from low calorie foods, underweight dogs can benefit from higher calorie ones. Once you have determined what your dog needs, the search for the right food can be easily narrowed down to a few choices.
We have rounded up 7 highly palatable non-prescription dog foods that are all made of high quality ingredients and contain no artificial enhancers.
- Orijen Six Fish Adult Dog Food
- Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe
- Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe
- Acana Heritage Free Run Poultry Dog Food
- Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice
- Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet
- Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate Medium & Maxi
1. Orijen Six Fish Formula
ORIJEN Six Fish Dry Dog Food is a grain-free dry dog food formulated for dogs of all breeds and sizes in all life stages. This dog food is high in protein, low in carbs, with moderate fat levels. Made with 6 kinds of fish, canine fish fans are sure to love the intense flavors of this highly palatable food. To make this tasty meal even more flavorful, each kibble is coated with freeze-dried cod liver.
Orijen promises 85% animal ingredients in all of their foods. In fact, Six Fish’s first 9 ingredients are all high quality animal ingredients. The most plentiful of all ingredients is whole atlantic mackerel. The brand uses whole fish to mimic dogs’ ancestral whole-prey diet that includes the meat, organs, and bones of prey. At 38% protein, this recipe helps dogs keep a leaner muscle mass.
As it is made mostly of fish, ORIJEN Six Fish kibble is naturally rich in omega 3 fatty acids that support skin and coat health. The main source of essential fatty acids in this recipe is sunflower oil.
Sunflower oil is high in omega 6 fatty acids that promote healthy skin, immune system and heart function. Safflower oil is included as a supplementary source of omega 6 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids also enrich this recipe with DHA and EPA that help improve dogs’ brain function and anti-inflammatory response.
ORIJEN Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food uses low carb plant-based vegetables and fruits as its sources of carbs, making it ideal for diabetic dogs who need a low carb, high protein diet. Its main source of carbs is whole red lentils. It also has whole pinto beans, peas, green lentils, and navy beans which are high in protein and other nutrients.
Dogs need fiber to help improve digestion. Diabetic dogs need fiber in their diet to help regulate their bodies’ absorption of sugar from carbohydrates. This fish recipe has whole pumpkin, which has both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber improves digestion by helping food move along the digestive tract. It also improves dogs’ stool quality.
Aside from pumpkin, nutritious fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, collard greens, and dried kelp are included in this recipe for their natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Antioxidants help fight free radicals and boost the immune system. Kelp alone is packed with so many health benefits. It has 60 different vitamins, minerals, and trace elements as well as 21 amino acids. It is high in iodine which helps support dogs’ glandular system as well as his metabolism.
Six Fish is enriched with vitamins and mineral supplements to ensure complete and balanced nutrition with every meal. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which help promote healthy joints in dogs.
This grain free recipe contains no artificial enhancers such as flavors, colors, or preservatives. It is free from corn, wheat, or soy.
First five ingredients:
- Whole Atlantic Mackerel
- Whole Atlantic Herring
- Acadian Redfish
This formula is certainly one of the most sought-after dog foods in the market. The highly palatable grain-free recipe is very popular among dogs. Their owners love the high quality ingredients that go into the kibbles, as well as its multiple health benefits.
If you have a picky pup in need of a high protein, low carb food, ORIJEN Six Fish Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is highly recommended. No matter how nutritious the food is, if your dog won’t eat it, he won’t get its health benefits.
A diabetic dog must not skip meals. Their meals should be consistent, with the same food given at the same time in the appropriate amounts every day. ORIJEN Six Fish has made our list for being very tasty, packed with nutrition, and low in carbohydrates.
2. Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe
Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe is a grain-free dry food formulated for the nutritional needs of adult dogs of all breeds and sizes. This single source protein formula is ideal for dogs sensitive to animal proteins other than chicken.
Fresh chicken and chicken meal are this recipe’s most plentiful ingredients respectively. Chicken meal is a high quality, concentrated source of protein. Chicken is one of the most popular animal proteins among dogs.
At 27% protein, this Purina Beyond Recipe has all the amino acids that dogs need to keep a lean muscle mass. Dried egg product adds richness and even more protein to this chicken meal.
The main source of essential fatty acids in this recipe is beef fat. Beef fat is full of meaty flavors that dogs love, making this recipe a really tasty dog food. Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe has omega fatty acids that promote healthy skin, lustrous coats, and healthy heart function.
Instead of carb sources with low nutritional value such as corn, wheat, or soy, Purina Beyond Simply White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe has low carb plant-based ingredients. It has pea starch and cassava root flour as its main sources of carbohydrates.
These are complex carbs that are highly digestible. It also has dried apples which add carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, as well as flavor to the kibbles. Dried beet pulp gives this meal much of the fiber that helps improve digestion and sugar regulation for diabetic dogs.
Aside from fiber, this recipe also has natural probiotics that improve dogs’ digestive health. Many holistic nutrition experts believe that the way to good health starts with the digestive system. Probiotics help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. This improves digestion, stool quality, and absorption of nutrients.
This Purina Beyond recipe is also enriched with nutrients such as taurine for heart and eye health; calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth; glucosamine for healthy joints; and many others that ensure complete and balanced nutrition with every meal. It is free from artificial enhancers such as colors, flavors, and preservatives.
First five ingredients:
- Chicken Meal
- Pea Starch
- Cassava Root Flour
- Canola Meal
This White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe seemed to be a popular dog food back when it used to have chicken bits mixed with the kibble. According to feedback from pet parents, the recipe change has turned some dogs away from it. However, There are still many dogs who seem to like the new formula.
If you are searching for a high protein food with only chicken as the animal protein source, has probiotics, and many other nutrients this recipe may be the one for your pup, especially if he or she is not accustomed to the old formula of this Purina Beyond variant.
3. Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe
Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe is a grain-free dry dog food formulated for the nutritional needs of adult dogs of all breeds and sizes. It is relatively high in protein but low in fat. This recipe has wholesome ingredients that are naturally packed with nutrition.
This dual-protein Whole Earth Farms recipe is ideal for dogs sensitive to grains and proteins other than chicken and turkey. At 27% protein, it provides pups with the amino acids that they need to keep lean and strong muscles.
Chicken is a highly palatable, easy to digest protein, while turkey is a leaner source of protein that dogs also love. This recipe has chicken meal and turkey meal as the most plentiful ingredients. Both are high quality, concentrated sources of protein. Fresh chicken and turkey are also included for even more protein and flavor.
The main source of healthy fats in Whole Earth Farms recipe is chicken fat. Chicken fat has omega fatty acids for healthy skin and glossy coats. It is also full of the rich chicken goodness that dogs love.
Instead of corn, wheat, or soy, the sources of carbs in this poultry recipe are hearty veggies such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and peas. These are complex carbs that also provide other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and fiber. They are highly digestible, which make this Whole Earth Farms recipe ideal for pups with sensitive stomachs.
Whole Earth Farms Chicken & Turkey Recipe also has apples. Apples have vitamin C, which is necessary for proper immune function. Aside from carbohydrates, they are high in fiber, which plays a role in digestion, weight, and blood sugar regulation.
This recipe also has flaxseed. Flaxseeds are not only high in fiber and omega fatty acids, they also contain lignans. Lignans improve cardiovascular health and may help fight cancer.
This chicken and turkey recipe is fortified with added vitamins and minerals to ensure that dogs get all of the nutrients that they require. It also has probiotics to help improve digestion and allow more nutrients to be absorbed by the body.
First five ingredients:
- Chicken Meal
- Turkey Meal
- Sweet Potatoes
This dry dog food from Whole Earth Farms has received good feedback from owners of pups with sensitive tummies. According to them, their dogs love this food and it does not upset their stomachs. Their stool quality improved, and they poop less with this formula.
However, some pet parents of dogs who have been eating this recipe for quite some time noted that there seems to be a change in the formula. According to them, their pups preferred the old formula.
If your diabetic pup needs a poultry formula that has a good amount of protein, yet relatively low in fat; and is gentle on sensitive stomachs, this dry kibble could be the right food for him or her.
4. ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe
ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe is a grain-free dry food formulated for the nutritional needs of dogs of every breed, size, and in all life stages. It is a multi-protein recipe that is high in protein and fiber, but low in carbs and fat. This grain and gluten-free recipe is 60% high quality animal ingredients. It has no unnamed animal ingredients or by-product meals.
ACANA's most plentiful ingredients in this formula are deboned chicken, deboned turkey, and chicken meal respectively. All sourced from free-range poultry, these high quality ingredients provide dogs with the amino acids they need to keep a lean and strong muscle mass.
Catfish meal, eggs, chicken and turkey organs such as heart, liver, and gizzard add even more protein and flavors to the tasty kibbles. Fish and poultry organs offer flavors that lots of dogs can't resist, making this recipe a highly palatable dog food. To make it even tastier, the kibbles are all coated with freeze-dried turkey liver.
The main source of essential fatty acids in ACANA Free-Run Poultry Recipe is chicken fat. It is high in omega fatty acids, and gives the kibbles a boost of rich chicken goodness.
Chicken Fat is a highly digestible animal fat source and has high levels of linoleic omega 6 fatty acids. Pollock oil is also included in the recipe to serve a source of omega 3 fatty acids. They help promote good skin, coat, and heart health in dogs.
This Free-Run Poultry Recipe from Acana has wholesome produce instead of carb-heavy ingredients such as corn, wheat, or white rice. It has low carb veggies such as whole green peas, red lentils, and pinto beans. These plant-based ingredients are high in protein and nutrients.
This ACANA recipe also has nutrient-packed kelp, whole pumpkin, carrot, apples, and turmeric among other veggies and fruits. These superfoods are high in fiber that helps improve digestion and blood sugar regulation, as well as antioxidants that boost the immune system against free radicals.
Aside from all the vitamins and minerals needed by dogs for complete and balanced nutrition, this dry dog food also has DHA for healthy cognitive function; calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth; and glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health support.
This grain-free recipe also has probiotics to help improve digestion and nutrient absorption. It is free from artificial enhancers such as flavors, colors and preservatives.
First five ingredients:
- Deboned Chicken
- Deboned Turkey
- Chicken Meal
- Whole Green Peas
- Whole Red Lentils
This particular kibble from Acana has received good reviews from owners of dogs with sensitive stomachs. They are able to keep the food down without encountering problems such as loose stools or vomiting.
Picky dogs absolutely love the rich poultry and fish flavors of the kibbles. Even non-kibble fans have been converted. If you are looking for a high protein and fiber, yet low carb, low fat food for your fussy diabetic pup, this formula is definitely highly recommended.
5. Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is a grain-inclusive dry food formulated for adult dogs who need to lose or maintain a healthy weight. This recipe has moderate levels of protein, low in fat but high in fiber. It has wholesome grains instead of corn, wheat, or soy as its carb sources.
Made with non-GMO ingredients, this Nutro Natural Choice recipe is made with real chicken and chicken meal. Chicken meal is a high quality, concentrated source of protein.
Aside from being one of the most popular proteins among dogs, chicken is also easy to digest. All animal ingredients in this recipe come from chicken only, making it ideal for pups sensitive to other protein sources.
This formula has dried egg product and pea protein as supplementary protein sources. At 24% protein and only 10% fat, this is a low calorie formula that can help pups lose excess weight.
Its main source of essential fatty acids is chicken fat. Chicken fat has omega fatty acids that promote healthy skin and shiny coats. It also gives this Healthy Weight formula a boost of chicken goodness that dogs enjoy.
Palatability is very important in foods targeted for special dietary needs. If the food is not enjoyed by the dog, the owner will be forced to feed food that may not be the best for the dog’s health. It is especially important that diabetic dogs enjoy their food, as skipping meals can make them very sick.
This dry food has wholesome grains and vegetables as its main sources of carbs. They are high fiber ingredients such as rice bran, peas, whole grain brown rice, and whole grain barley.
Insoluble fiber helps slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. This helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also helps dogs feel fuller for longer. At 11% fiber, this Nutro recipe has more fiber compared to regular kibbles for adult pups.
Lentils, chia seeds, dehydrated alfalfa meal, dried coconut, and kale among others contribute to the nutritional value of this Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe. These superfoods are high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and antioxidants that help support the immune system and overall health of dogs.
Aside from the nutrients naturally present in its wholesome ingredients, Nutro Natural Choice Healthy Weight Adult is also fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure complete and balanced nutrition with every meal.
It is free from artificial enhancers such as flavors, colors, and preservatives, as well as unnamed animal ingredients and by-product meals.
First five ingredients:
- Chicken Meal
- Rice Bran
- Split Peas
- Whole Grain Brown Rice
Healthy Weight Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe is one of the highest rated products from the brand. The chicken flavor seems to be a hit among pups, with many preferring this Healthy Weight formula over the regular chicken and rice variant from the brand.
Pet parents have reported an improvement in their dogs’ weight. Most of the feedback from dog owners is about how it has improved their dogs’ digestion and stool quality. The high fiber content seems to benefit a lot of dogs with sensitive tummies.
Overall, if your picky diabetic pup needs a low fat, high fiber diet, thus, this product is highly recommended.
6. Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet
Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet is a grain-inclusive dry dog food formulated for dogs with weight gain tendencies and metabolism problems. According to the brand, this formula helps stop obesity, diabetes mellitus, constipation, metabolic disorders, and hyperlipidemia.
Designed to be low in fat and calories, Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet is only 18% protein. It has hydrolyzed fish protein and anchovy meal as its main sources of protein.
Fish is a highly digestible protein that is packed with flavor and omega 3 fatty acids that support skin, coat, and heart health. Hydrolyzed potato protein serves as a supplementary source or easy to digest protein.
Fish oil is Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet’s main source of essential fatty acids. Aside from omega fatty acids, it also gives the kibbles a boost of fish flavors. At only 7% fat, this recipe is ideal for pups who need to lose weight or require low fat diets such as dogs with pancreatitis.
The main source of carbohydrates and fiber in this formula is brown rice, followed by ground rice. These wholesome grains are high in fiber that can help regulate diabetic pups’ sugar absorption. Fiber also helps keep dogs feel fuller for longer, and improves their digestion and stool quality.
Weight Control Diet from Forza10 has dried kelp, which contains 60 different vitamins, minerals, and trace elements as well as 21 amino acids.
It is a good source of numerous growth hormones, and is known for its iodine content. Iodine helps support dogs’ glandular system as well as his metabolism.
To ensure complete and balanced nutrition, this recipe is fortified with vitamins and minerals. L-Carnitine, orange peel, and rosemary are added for weight support. It contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
First five ingredients:
- Brown Rice
- Ground Rice
- Hydrolyzed Fish Protein
- Dried Kelp
- Dried Beet Pulp
According to feedback from pet parents, Forza10 Nutraceutic Active Line Weight Control Diet seem to be helping dogs shed their excess weight. This diet food tastes great as well, as the pups enjoy having the kibbles for their meals. Their owners love the high quality ingredients and the health benefits it has given to their pups.
Overall, this dry dog food from Forza10 is quite similar to prescription foods in that it is quite grain-heavy. Instead of corn, wheat, or soy, this weight control recipe has high fiber produce such as brown rice. This recipe designed to help dogs with weight gain issues and diabetes is definitely worth a try.
7. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate
Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate recipe is a grain-inclusive recipe formulated for the nutritional needs of medium to large breed adult dogs. It is a low-calorie, low-glycemic formula that is high in protein but low in fat. This recipe is ideal for weight management.
While it is a grain-inclusive formula, 90% of Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate’s protein comes from animal ingredients. It’s most plentiful ingredients are chicken and dehydrated chicken respectively.
This dual-protein formula also has fresh and dehydrated herring, as well as dried whole eggs. These high quality protein sources give dogs the amino acids they need to build lean and strong muscles. This recipe is quite high in protein at 34%.
The main source of essential fatty acids in this Light variant of Farmina’s Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate is chicken fat. It is supplemented by herring oil. Chicken fat is high in omega 6 fatty acids, while herring oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
These essential fatty acids support dogs’ antiinflammatory response; immune system health; cognitive function; heart, skin and coat health. Dogs must have the right balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in their bodies.
Instead of corn, wheat, or soy, Farmina’s source of carbs here are high fiber ancestral grains like whole spelt and whole oats.
These nutritious complex carbs give dogs fiber that helps slow digestion and absorption of dietary carbs. This helps regulate diabetic dogs’ sugar absorption. Fiber also improves their digestive health and stool quality.
Another benefit of a high fiber diet, is helping pups feel full until their next meal. This is beneficial to dogs who need to shed a few pounds or maintain healthy weights.
This Farmina chicken and pomegranate recipe also has nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. It has dried carrots, pomegranate, apples, spinach, sweet orange, blueberries, and sun-cured alfalfa meal among others. These plant-based ingredients are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system against free radicals.
Aside from the nutrients naturally found in its high quality ingredients, this dry dog food is fortified with all the vitamins and minerals that dogs require for a complete and balanced meal.
It also has glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for joint support, and taurine for eye and heart health. This dog food has aloe vera gel concentrate, which has vitamins A, E, and C.
First five ingredients:
- Dehydrated Chicken
- Whole Spelt
- Whole Oats
- Fresh Herring
Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Chicken & Pomegranate formula is highly rated by many pet parents. It scored high marks for the high quality of its ingredients.
This chicken and pomegranate recipe is also highly palatable despite being a diet food for dogs. Even picky pups enjoy having these kibbles for their meals.
According to dog owners, they have noticed improved health and weight loss in their dogs after they were switched to this recipe. This grain-inclusive formula seems to help dogs with sensitive stomachs as well.
If you are looking for a high protein grain-inclusive food that is low fat, low glycemic, yet high in fiber, this dry food from Farmina is highly recommended.
It has stellar quality and numerous health benefits, which many pups were able to get. It is also free from peas, potatoes, and legumes.
Background for Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
Diabetes is common in dogs and it’s increasing. It’s currently estimated to affect 1 in 160 dogs. (Another source estimates 1 in 200 dogs.)
The medical term for diabetes is diabetes mellitus . It is caused by either a decreased production of insulin or decreased functioning of the insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps glucose move from the blood stream into the cells of the body where it can be used for energy.
There are several different types of diabetes. In Type 1, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin (or produce enough insulin). Type 2 is often linked to diet and obesity. Type 2 is the form that is most common in humans. This is also the form most often seen in cats. The third kind of diabetes is gestational diabetes and it can occur during pregnancy.
While humans and cats often suffer from Type 2 diabetes, dogs are prone to Type 1 diabetes. Dogs can also develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
In some cases, a Type 1 diagnosis in dogs is complicated by other diseases such as Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, liver disease, urinary tract infections, and other illnesses. These other health problems can complicate treatment and affect the diet your dog requires.
Risk Factors for Diabetes in Dogs
Some dogs are more at risk for diabetes than others. Predisposing factors include:
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Cushing’s disease
- Long-term use of prednisone and other steroid drugs
- A study published in the Veterinary Journal in 2003 examined diabetes rates in thousands of American dogs and found that overall, mixed-breed dogs were more prone to diabetes than purebreds. Among purebreds, Samoyeds, Australian Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Pugs, Keeshonds, Pulik, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, Spitz, Fox Terriers, Bichon Frise, Siberian Huskies, Miniature and Toy Poodles were most at risk.
- Middle-aged and older dogs are most at risk.
- Female dogs and neutered male dogs are more likely than intact males to get diabetes.
- Obesity can make cells resistant to insulin, but it’s unclear whether it actually causes diabetes in dogs.
- A diet high in fat may contribute to pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas), a risk factor for diabetes.
Tips for Feeding your Dog a Diabetic Dog Food
Part of managing your diabetic dog’s health, of course, is overseeing his diet. For years the standard recommendation for diabetic dogs was to feed a high fiber/low fat diet.
Indeed, you can find many web sites today, some with recommendations from veterinarians, that suggest this kind of diet instead of a specific diabetic dog food.
For example, we found this statement on one site: “Most vets recommend a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Fiber slows the entrance of glucose into the bloodstream and helps your dog feel full. Low-fat foods have fewer calories. Together, the diet can help your dog eat less and lose weight.”
The problem, of course, is that Type 1 diabetes does not necessarily develop because of diet or obesity. Dogs don’t have to be overweight to become diabetic. There is no clear link between obesity and diabetes in dogs so feeding a dog this kind of diet may not be appropriate.
For humans and cats with Type 2 diabetes, which is related to obesity, a high fiber/low fat diet (or high protein and low carbs) would be great. But that’s not necessarily the case with dogs that have Type 1 diabetes.
For dogs that have Type 1 diabetes, there is no one recommended diet today but there are some ways to manage his diet that will help. It’s important that your dog enjoys his food and eats it. A diabetic dog that skips meals will have problems.
Most diabetic dogs without complicating health problems can be successfully managed with an adult maintenance diet. You do not need to buy a prescription diet. If your dog has a concurrent illness, you should feed a diet that is appropriate for that health problem.
When feeding a diabetic dog food it’s very important that you feed your dog the same portions at the same times every day. You are striving to keep his glucose levels steady, so your dog needs to eat the same amounts at the same times.
For most dogs, one meal every 12 hours is ideal. Making any change in the carbohydrates your dog eats will affect the amount of insulin he requires so you should not change dog foods on a whim. Depending on your dog, he may need a snack between meals so his glucose levels don’t drop too low.
(For suggested reading, please see “2010 AAHA Diabetes Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats,” Published in 2010 (May/June) Renee Rucinsky, DVM, ABVP (Feline) (Chair) | Audrey Cook, BVM&:S, MRCVS, Diplomate ACVIM-SAIM, Diplomate ECVIM-CA | Steve Haley, DVM | Richard Nelson, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM | Debra L. Zoran, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM | Melanie Poundstone, DVM, ABVP – the section on the dog.)
According to the “2010 AAHA Diabetes Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats,” the following is the recommended diet therapy for dogs diagnosed with diabetes:
Evaluate and recommend an appropriate diet that will correct obesity, optimize body weight, and minimize postprandial hyperglycemia. Dogs with DM can do well with any diet that is complete and balanced, does not contain simple sugars, is fed at consistent times in consistent amounts, and is palatable for predictable and consistent intake.
Dietary considerations include:
- The use of diets that contain increased quantities of soluble and insoluble fiber or that are designed for weight maintenance in diabetics or for weight loss in obese diabetics.
- May improve glycemic control by reducing postprandial hyperglycemia.
- May help with caloric restriction in obese dogs undergoing weight reduction.
- In underweight dogs, the priority of dietary therapy is to normalize body weight, increase muscle mass, and stabilize metabolism and insulin requirements. Underweight dogs should be fed a high-quality maintenance diet or a diabetic diet that has mixed fiber and is not designed for weight loss.
- Modify the diet based on other conditions (e.g., pancreatitis, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease) and needs of the dog.
The Diabetic Dog’s Food
Depending on whether your diabetic dog is overweight, underweight, or “just right” will determine how much fiber and carbohydrates he needs in his diet.
Your dog may not need a diet that is low in fat unless he also has pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, raised triglyceride levels, elevated cholesterol, or another special issue. However, most diabetic dogs do have at least one of these concurrent health problems; and pancreatitis is a common predisposing factor in diabetic dogs.
This means that a diet that is moderately low in fat is often advisable for diabetic dogs. At least you should avoid feeding dog foods that are high in fat.
For most diabetic dogs, the amount of protein in their diet should be normal for dogs today or increased. When fat is lowered in the diet, protein should be increased to avoid adding too many extra carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates for a Diabetic Dog
Carbohydrates have the greatest affect on your dog’s post-meal blood sugar levels. Your dog’s insulin dose requirement and the carb contents of his meal are strongly connected, no matter what kind of carbohydrate is in the food. This means that the best way to keep your dog’s insulin requirements stable is by keeping the carbs in his diet steady.
One of the ways you can look at carbohydrates is by checking the glycemic index. The glycemic index measures the effects carbohydrates in food have on blood sugar levels. The index provides an estimate of how much each gram of available carbohydrates (total carb minus fiber) in a food raises blood glucose level after the food is eaten, relative to the consumption of glucose. The glycemic index is easy to find online.
Foods that are rated as “low glycemic” release glucose slowly and steadily. Foods that are rated “high glycemic” release glucose at a faster rate, resulting in a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels. You can probably see why this would be important information as it relates to a diabetic dog.
Low glycemic foods include many fruits and vegetables, legumes, some whole grains, and fructose. Foods that are medium glycemic include whole wheat products, brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, sugar (sucrose), and honey. High glycemic foods include white rice, white or wheat bread, and glucose.
Diabetic dogs should avoid foods that contain simple carbohydrates such as sugars (corn syrup, for example) and propylene glycol (found in semi-moist foods), since they will cause a rapid glucose spike.
Complex carbohydrates (starches) are more desirable for diabetic dogs since they are digested more slowly. The rise in the glucose level is gradual and there is no rapid spike. The processing of the raw ingredients used in dog foods, however, can affect how fast these complex carbohydrates are digested by the dog.
Carbs will be digested faster than nutrients such as proteins and fats so they have the biggest effect on the post-meal glycemic response and your dog’s insulin needs. You may need to adjust the amount of carbohydrates in your dog’s meals (depending on when the insulin effect peaks), so that the peak effect of the injected insulin will coincide with the elevation in glucose and not lead to hypoglycemia.
Diabetic dogs should normally avoid the easily digestible dog foods that are designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs. These foods are made to break down and be digested quickly so they can result in higher blood glucose levels after eating which can be problematic for a diabetic dog.
Fiber for a Diabetic Dog
Dietary fiber (or roughage), as you probably know, is the indigestible part of food derived from plants. Dietary fibers can act by changing the nature of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract and by changing how other nutrients and chemicals are absorbed.
Fiber slows the speed with which the gastrointestinal system empties and the digestion of carbohydrates. This also slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream. In turn, this means that the dog’s blood sugar will rise more slowly after meals containing dietary fiber.
Diabetic dogs don’t necessarily need more fiber than other dogs. In most cases they will do well with moderate amounts of fiber. If your dog has poor glycemic control, he may benefit from increased fiber in his diet but some diabetic dogs are better off with less fiber in their diet.
“Glycemic control” is a medical term referring to the typical levels of blood sugar (glucose) in a person (or dog) with diabetes mellitus. “Perfect glycemic control” would mean that glucose levels were always normal and indistinguishable from a dog without diabetes. A dog with poor glycemic control will have persistently elevated blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels.
There are two different kinds of fiber : soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber ferments in the colon and creates gases. Insoluble fiber does not produce gas in the intestines. It absorbs water as it moves through the digestive tract.
Soluble fibers include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), pectins, guar gum, lactulose, and psyllium. Most soluble fiber (except psyllium) is fermentable. Beet pulp has a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber and is moderately fermentable.
Prebiotics are also soluble fibers and they are fermentable. They feed probiotics – the beneficial bacteria found in the digestive tract which plays an important role in the body’s immune system. Soluble fiber also produces beneficial short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as it ferments.
Too much soluble fiber can cause problems, resulting in gas and diarrhea. It can speed up glucose absorption after your dog eats his meal. Gas from soluble fiber is most likely to develop when the fiber is initially introduced into the diet or when the amount is increased. You can avoid this problem by starting with a small amount of soluble fiber in the diet and increasing it gradually.
Insoluble fiber regulates the time it takes for food to travel through the intestines. If a dog is constipated, it can speed things up; if your dog has diarrhea, it can slow things down. Examples are bran and one with which many dog owners are familiar – pumpkin. Insoluble fiber increases stool volume and is usually well-tolerated by dogs even in large amounts. It may help in controlling glucose.
However, given in large amounts, insoluble fiber can decrease the nutrient value of the dog’s diet because it can bind the minerals in the food. Diets that are high in insoluble fiber can also lead to weight loss, poor appetite, poor coat quality, vomiting, very large stools, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation.
Diets with increased fiber are not recommended for dogs that are underweight; dogs that won’t eat because of the taste or texture of the fiber in the food; or dogs that experience some of the side effects mentioned above.
If you are feeding a dog food or adding a supplement that has increased fiber, it’s particularly important to provide plenty of fluids to your dog because the fiber draws water from the dog’s body. This can lead to constipation or other difficulties if the dog is not drinking enough water.
Managing your Diabetic Dog’s Diet
Here’s a summary of what you need to remember in order to manage your diabetic dog’s diet:
- The most important thing for your diabetic dog’s diet is that he likes his food and eats it willingly at each meal.
- Most diabetic dogs do best eating two meals per day, 12 hours apart. Feed the same amount of food, with the same amount of carbs, at each meal and feed your dog at the same scheduled time each day to help control his blood glucose level.
- There is no single best diet recommended for diabetic dogs.
- Most diabetic dogs do not require a prescription diet. They can eat a normal adult maintenance diet unless they have a concurrent health problem that requires a special diet.
- Most diabetic dogs do not need a high fiber diet. They can eat a diet that is moderate in fiber like other dogs.
- You do not have to feed your diabetic dog a high protein diet but you can.
- Diabetic dogs do not necessarily require a low fat diet. However, diets that are moderately low in fat are a good idea for some diabetic dogs because of the association between diabetes, pancreatitis, and other health issues involving fat. Strive to maintain your diabetic dog at a healthy weight.
Naturally there are other things to know about feeding your diabetic dog and managing his condition, but these points should be at the top of any dog owner’s list. It’s not easy for any dog lover to hear that their dog has diabetes but you should know that this is not a death sentence.
Dogs do survive and live long lives with diabetes. You can manage this condition. We know more today about diabetes in dogs than we did a few years ago. There is more to learn but dogs are benefiting from research today.
Do diabetic dogs need special food?
Dogs fed diets containing more starch may need more insulin or a different type of insulin than dogs fed a low-carb diet. Most diabetic dogs can eat a typical moderate-fiber maintenance diet. They don't need a high-fiber prescription food. It is fine to feed a high-protein diet, but that is not a requirement.
Can diabetic dogs eat regular dog food?
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines say the type of food fed to a dog with diabetes is much less important than the consistency of the diet. As long as the food is a high-quality diet that is complete and balanced, your diabetic dog will do fine with it.
How many times a day do you feed a diabetic dog?
The best way to feed a diabetic dog is twice a day. You should have received a diet recommendation for your dog. If you have not received one, please ask for one. The second step in treatment is to use a drug to control (lower) blood glucose levels.
Can a diabetic dog eat scrambled eggs?
Yes. But steer clear of soft, semi-moist dog foods in packets, which are typically high in sugar. With your vet's approval, here's how you can entice your pup to eat: Stir a tablespoon of canned food into his regular food. Scatter shredded chicken or scrambled eggs into kibble.